“I am glad it has all ended so satisfactorily, and that you are back again,” he went on. “Come, what do they say about the new act I have got passed in the council?”
Anna had heard nothing of this act, And she felt conscience-stricken at having been able so readily to forget what was to him of such importance.
“Here, on the other hand, it has made a great sensation,” he said, with a complacent smile.
She saw that Alexey Alexandrovitch wanted to tell her something pleasant to him about it, and she brought him by questions to telling it. With the same complacent smile he told her of the ovations he had received in consequence of the act he had passed.
“I was very, very glad. It shows that at last a reasonable and steady view of the matter is becoming prevalent among us.”
Having drunk his second cup of tea with cream, and bread, Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, and was going towards his study.
“And you’ve not been anywhere this evening? You’ve been dull, I expect?” he said.
“Oh, no!” she answered, getting up after him and accompanying him across the room to his study. “What are you reading now?” she asked.
“Just now I’m reading Duc de Lille, Poesie des Enfers,” he answered. “A very remarkable book.”
Anna smiled, as people smile at the weaknesses of those they love, and, putting her hand under his, she escorted him to the door of the study. She knew his habit, that had grown into a necessity, of reading in the evening. She knew, too, that in spite of his official duties, which swallowed up almost the whole of his time, he considered it his duty to keep up with everything of note that appeared in the intellectual world. She knew, too, that he was really interested in books dealing with politics, philosophy, and theology, that art was utterly foreign to his nature; but, in spite of this, or rather, in consequence of it, Alexey Alexandrovitch never passed over anything in the world of art, but made it his duty to read everything. She knew that in politics, in philosophy, in theology, Alexey Alexandrovitch often had doubts, and made investigations; but on questions of art and poetry, and, above all, of music, of which he was totally devoid of understanding, he had the most distinct and decided opinions. He was fond of talking about Shakespeare, Raphael, Beethoven, of the significance of new schools of poetry and music, all of which were classified by him with very conspicuous consistency.
“Well, God be with you,” she said at the door of the study, where a shaded candle and a decanter of water were already put by his armchair. “And I’ll write to Moscow.”
He pressed her hand, and again kissed it.
“All the same he’s a good man; truthful, good-hearted, and remarkable in his own line,” Anna said to herself going back to her room, as though she were defending him to someone who had attacked him and said that one could not love him. “But why is it his ears stick out so strangely? Or has he had his hair cut?”